Rumor has it there is a specialized warehouse, somewhere close to a large fast food restaurant, where permabulkers gather to discuss the ultimate ways to boost your squats stats and possibly gain an alpha male status. In the background there’s always a massive high end plasma TV replaying the greatest squats of all time. Legend has it that even if you don’t look at the screen the strength imagery hits your subconscious mind and makes you stronger.
One of the programs analyzed very frequently at similar gatherings is the Russian squat routine Smolov, which has been popularized in the Western world by a former trainer of special military units. At first glance the routine seems like a good way to uninstall walking from your life for a few months, but since it also promises to add 100 lbs to your squat if you are a good boy willing to work hard, many people buy a ticket and jump on the dirty train.
“Smolov’s Squat Metamorphose is a routine that every real squatter should try at least once in his life,” is written in the codex of the International Squat Union.
In reality, Smolov’s squat boost strategy rarely works for naturals and even unnaturals because of the extraordinary amount of heavy lifting you are forced to do during those 90 days in Hell. I know there are many “success” stories on the Internet, but in real life most people will not be able to sustain the pain unless they can redesign their whole existence around squatting for the next three months, eat as much as possible and have joints that can sustain medieval torture to begin with.
I know those are heartbreaking lines for the lonely squat addicts out there, hoping to add 100s of pounds to their squats using special soviet tactics, but to be honest that only makes me a happier person.
Out of 100 people there may be 10 humanoids who are able to complete the program as written in the original manuscript and experience a nice squat boost, but the greater majority of lifters will just hurt their knees, hips or lower backs. Also, most Smolov survivors will be adding less than 100 lbs to their squats records.
By the way, the program needs to be followed by a massive reduction of squat volume unless you want to dislocate something. Therefore, afterwards your top strength usually drops too. Honestly, I wouldn’t do Smolov even if I know that my body can sustain it. I see neither long term, nor short term benefits. Chaining myself to a squat rack? No, thanks.
Most permabulking squat addicts have really hard time admitting the fact that their squats numbers will suck even if with 100 lbs on top. That’s because the biggest share of permabulkers in the world are natty fat guys who usually squat something between 400 – 450 lbs / 181 – 205 kg at the “light” bodyweight of 220 lbs – 275 lbs / 100 -125 kg. This is indeed a pretty good squat for a natural guy, but it will not make you a powerlifting champion because the strength drugs have advanced to the point where those weights can be squatted by people weighing 120 lbs / 54 kg. Thus, you are only playing the game for personal reasons, and if that’s the case, what’s point of risking an injury and possible downtime? What are permabulkers really trying to accomplish? An online high five from the low bar king or the kettlebell guru?
Whatever the case, Smolov Squat is nothing but a spike program. You can only use it maybe once or twice in your whole career as a human forklift. Why? Because you cannot be adding 100 lbs to your squat every year. If that was the case, naturals would be squatting 1000 lbs and unnaturals 2000 lbs or even more. Therefore, Smolov Squat is destined to be a small portion of your lifting journey no matter what. Your training routine during the rest of the time is the true force behind long term results.
It’s a bit like a long awaited vacation. You plan it for months or maybe even years. Then it happens, and it’s usually a little disappointing – just like Smolov. Of course, you may be able to experience a lot of amazing things during a holiday, but at the end of the day it goes away, and the rest of the year comes in.
Along the same lines, Smolov’s Squat Metamorphose can also be seen as an all-consuming honeymoon for pemabulkers and their exclusive lover – the barbell back squat. You live a few intense months with your squat, but then it’s over and you have to turn down the volume for the rest of the relationship. It’s a dangerous game in which only you can get hurt.
The only justifiable reason to consider programs such as Smolov is a threat to your physical life that can be eliminated only by increasing your best squat as fast as possible in the next three months. You can think of it as the movie Speed but with squats. There’s a ticking bomb in you that will activate unless you keep on adding plates to the squat bar. Thankfully, last time I checked there aren’t people who have died directly from “not adding plates to their squats fast”, and I think it’s safe to conclude that not increasing your squat will not kill you.
However, there’s catch that can be found in the term “permabulker’s depression”, which can cause some serious issues for the sick mind of a barbell fanatic. Whenever a permabulker is not increasing the thickness of the barbell as consistently as his online and offline buddies, it get’s dangerous. Bodybuilders worry about their arm size all the time while bulkers constantly think of different methods to boost their barbell indexes. Depending on how severe the depression is, a healthy dose of Smolov may be needed to reduce the amount of suicidal thoughts in the head of the patients. It’s simple: you let them kill their knees to safe their lives.